I am a final year undergraduate student reading for Bsc. Electrical and information Engineering. As for the final year project, I am planning to do a project on deep learning. After doing some literature survey I found a research paper that goes along with my research interest, and the project code is also available in GitHub.I want to recreate the research paper and do some additional changes to their research methodology and evaluate the results.I just want to know if it is a plagiarism to use that code, and will there be any obligations, if I am to write a research paper using my experimental results including the additional changes to the research.

Thanks in advance and sorry If am being naive, as I am new to this domain. If some one could be of any help to clarify this, it would be of great help.

1 Answer 1


It is not plagiarism as long as you clearly write something to the effect of "I downloaded this code from this github" in your paper and cite the paper in question. Plagiarism would be to pretend that you wrote all the code from scratch.

(On a side note, the code on github is most likely under an open source license, but you should double-check this before you upload your modified code to github. If there is no license present in the project that explicitly allows it, it would theoretically be a copyright violation to publish your modified code. This doesn't affect the paper, which you can publish even if you can't make your code public.)

  • as a quick comment on this, there is a difference between unique code dedicated to a specific problem/dataset and general code. Where that line is drawn is hard to say, though. So probably wise to air on the side of caution. For example, the code for a neural network is widely available online and many people have replicated or independently created it through base R.
    – JWH2006
    Jun 21, 2018 at 14:06
  • @JWH2006: I'm not sure I follow, what is "the side of caution" in this case?
    – nengel
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:19
  • to err on the side of caution is to just be cautious and cite your sources.
    – JWH2006
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:34
  • How would that differ if the code is unique or not, though?
    – nengel
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:40
  • I will give an example, I read a recent blog post that inspired me to work on a project. The blog post included code. Though I did not copy paste from the code, it was through reading the blog post and working through the coding examples that I wrote my own code and finished the project. I lost nothing by citing the author of the blog as the source of my coding inspiration.
    – JWH2006
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:56

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